Written by Molly Coffyn. Photos by Kendall Kaminski
We flew to Las Vegas, Nevada and after checking in, hung out by the pool before meeting up with friends and venturing outside the city to see the Red Rock Canyon. We weren’t sure if we ended up in the “official” conservation area, but we hiked a bit into these desert mountains amongst cacti and wildflowers. We stopped to eat barbeque wings and admire the sunset colors.
We enjoyed a birthday breakfast for Kendall the next day before driving four hours to Zion National Park. We compared these mountains to cathedrals and giants. We could easily picture dinosaurs rounding the corners of these towering stone walls. Gazing at the limestone and sandstone, we were in awe of the way plants could grow through these slabs. We hiked the Emerald Pools trail, stopped at the top to eat lunch, and craned our heads up at these massive faces. We then took the shuttle down the canyon to walk along the river and arrived at the Narrows, where we were cautioned of flash floods. We certainly left this park wanting to return and hike back further. We ended the night at the Zion Brew Pub to satisfy Kendall’s craving for a steak dinner. Then, back to Vegas for the night.
For my birthday the next day, we drove out towards the Grand Canyon and stopped along the way at the Kaibab National Forest right outside the canyon, so we could go on a guided horseback ride. It was very peaceful and our guide, Merl, was kind and informative. The Grand Canyon itself took our breath away. We were stunned by the symmetry of it all and how advanced the hikes were - such thin paths to descend into the canyon. Back in Vegas, we ate sushi for dinner and slept deeply.
Two hours before returning to the airport, we walked the strip and wandered into the Bellagio. Each year, we try to travel somewhere new to celebrate our birthdays (easy to do when they are back-to-back days), and our experience at Zion and the Grand Canyon set the bar high for next year.